KARACHI: Pakistan is constantly losing its share of the Afghan Transit Trade (ATT), the primary beneficiary of which is Iran. There are no statistics available but it is estimated that Iran’s share in total Afghan Transit has increased to 70 percent while Pakistan’s share has declined to just 30 percent; a high placed official said while talking to Customs Today informally.
The volume of Afghan Transit Trade through Pakistan has been on a constant decline. It reportedly dropped by over 54 percent in fiscal year 2011-12. Pakistan has also lost a significant share earlier this earlier when Afghan traders said at a joint meeting of Pakistani and Afghani traders at Jalalabad in March this year, that they had reduced the transit of commercial goods through Pakistan by 20 percent. The Afghan traders cited cost as the major reason for reducing ATT through Pakistan. A Karachi to Kabul-bound costs $5,000 to transport compared to $3,500 from Iran, they had said.
Kabul’s keenness to make Iran its preferred transit trade hub is obvious from Afghanistan’s ambassador statement in June this year in New Delhi. Afghanistan was keen to sign a trilateral agreement with Iran and India to facilitate the transportation of Indian goods through Iran’s Chahbahar Port, he had said.
Besides the high transportation cost, the significant decline in Pakistan’s share in the overall Afghan Transit trade could also be attributed to a number of factors such as the law and order situation and political situation like sit-ins in Islamabad.
At present, over 2,000 containers are used in the Afghan Transit Trade form the Karachi ports and every single truck on which these Kabul-bound cargoes are transported are tracked cent percent.